Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are two of the greatest players to ever grace the game of tennis. They share an astonishing 33 grand slam titles and have produced some of the most epic matches of all time. Although reaching the twilight of their respective careers, both players are back to peak form, as highlighted by their epic Australian Open final in early 2017. So who is the greatest? Who’s your guy?
Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal, regardless of how well he does from now until the end of his career, will go down in history as the undisputed king of clay. To date, he has recorded 53 career titles on this surface alone (the highest in history) and has a ridiculous win/loss record of 383-35 (91.6%). The great man has won a whopping ten French Open titles, four more than any other player in history.
Nadal isn’t just a single surface specialist. It still takes an incredible amount of skill to win at all four major venues and he has won every other slam at least once, recording one Australian Open, and two each at Wimbledon and the US Open. His 15 slams put him just ahead of the great Pete Sampras at second of all time and he could have had plenty more if Novak Djokovic and a certain Mr. Federer had not been around at the same time.
One could argue, however, that the rivalry between the three great players (starting with just Federer and Nadal) has pushed men’s tennis to greater heights. Certainly Roger, now rightly considered the best player of all time, has earned his legacy by consistently defeating great players in grand slam finals. Federer’s record 18 grand slam titles put him at number one on the overall list and his Australian Open win in 2017 over Nadal showed the world that he is far from finished.
He too has won every major, with seven Wimbledon titles, five each at the Australian and US Opens and just the one from the French. He too could have had plenty more, especially at Roland Garros, had it not been for his Spanish nemesis.
Federer’s most impressive statistic is that he is the only man in history to win two different slams on five consecutive occasions (Wimbledon 2003-2007 and the US Open 2004-2008).
Amazingly, neither player has completed The Grand Slam – the incredible achievement of winning all four slams in a calendar year. Both Nadal and Federer have won three in a calendar year, and on each occasion, the fourth was won by their rival.
Both players have also managed the rare feat of winning a slam without dropping a set (Federer once at the 2007 Australian Open and Nadal twice at the French Open, 2008 and 2010). We could go on and on about how great these players are – the numbers are truly astounding.
Much like Ronaldo and Messi in soccer, it does not necessarily have to be about who is the greatest. We should be thankful that two ‘once in a generation’ players were around at the same time to produce some of the best tennis any of us are likely to see.
Nadal Federer Stats
Nadal and Federer have been around for a long time. Nadal has played in 1023 career matches while Federer has featured in a whopping 1345. Roger has an overall win/loss record of 81.7%, which is just less than Nadal whose 82.3% is equally as impressive.
Surprisingly, the pair have only met in tournaments on 37 occasions, and it is Rafa that has the better record. In fact, it’s not really that close with Nadal winning 23 (62%) of the matchups. 15 of the 37 matchups have been on clay, with Nadal winning 13 on his preferred surface.
This perhaps explains the lopsided career record between the pair. The pair have played against each other on three times already in 2017, the most amount of times since 2013 when they contested on four occasions. So far this year, Federer has had the upper hand with a 3-0 record, although all have been on hard court surfaces. Nadal last beat Federer in the semi-final of the Australian Open in 2014, winning in straight sets.
Over the years, the duo have contested in a number of big matches, including nine grand slam finals. This is more than any duo in history. They have also played against each other in 23 finals overall, second only to Nadal’s rivalry with Djokovic (they have matched up in 24 finals to date). Nadal wins the head to head battle here 6 to 3, with four of the nine coming in the French Open.
Grand Slam Finals
- 2017 Australian Open (Federer won 6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3)
- 2011 French Open (Nadal won 7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1)
- 2009 Australian Open (Nadal won 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(7–3), 3–6, 6–2)
- 2008 Wimbledon (Nadal won 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7)
- 2008 French Open (Nadal won 6–1, 6–3, 6–0)
- 2007 Wimbledon (Federer won 7–6(9–7), 4–6, 7–6(7–3), 2–6, 6–2)
- 2007 French Open (Nadal won 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4)
- 2006 Wimbledon (Federer won 6–0, 7–6(7–5), 6–7(2–7), 6–3)
- 2006 French Open (Nadal won 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6 (7–4))
Nadal Federer Betting Odds
Federer and Nadal have produced some of the most epic battles over the years, and there are a number of trends that stand out when considering their rivalry from a betting perspective.
Firstly, you can see above that just one of the nine finals between the great rivals have been won in straight sets. In fact, the pair have contested in fifteen five set matches over the years and just two in total were completed in three.
Six out of fifteen matches went to five sets and seven went to four sets, and this is a statistic you simply can’t ignore when looking at the betting options available. Look for the ‘number of sets’ line and put money down on the match to go to either four or five sets and you should be in for a win.
It’s a pretty obvious one, but important nonetheless – Federer has won just two matches from fifteen attempts on clay. His withdrawal from the 2017 French Open and lack of clay-court tennis could be an indication that he is done with the surface, but in the event that he does match up against Nadal you would be crazy to put your money on Roger.
The only two straight-set victories in five set matches between them occurred on clay and were won by Nadal. Who can forget the 2008 French Open when he only dropped four games in the final?
The best part of betting on Federer and Nadal matches is that you will always receive fantastic head-to-head value, whichever player you decide to put your money on.
Both players are so close and the statistics show that the majority of matches go the distance, so it is rare that you would see either player as a clear favourite. As the pair reach the later stages in their respective careers, there may be less opportunities to see them face off in major tennis tournaments so be sure to put your money down when they do meet.
The first tennis major of the year gets underway on January 14 in Melbourne. The men’s side of the bracket remains dominated by the three with Djokovic opening as the favourite to win his seventh title. The women’s side is much more open and interesting, but looking at the odds, a recent finalist could be the best bet to win her first title in Melbourne.